Time Photo Director Recalls Spending Thanksgiving in Liberia

PaulMoakleyPicIn 2008, Paul Moakley, the deputy director of photography and visual enterprise for Time magazine (pictured), curated the first New York exhibit of photos of the Liberian Civil War taken by Tim Hetherington. The photographer was killed in action there three years later.

In explaining what went into the visual end of Time‘s 2014 Person of the Year package, Moakley writes that the exhibit and his dealings with Hetherington made him think he was destined to eventually travel to Liberia. That trip came together this fall and started in earnest here in New York on the Friday before Thanksgiving:

I woke up early so I’d be the first person at the Liberian consulate. It was totally empty and I sensed they were surprised that someone wanted to apply for a visa. I was afraid they would deny it to me if I said that I was a journalist looking to cover Ebola. And, of course that was the first question the administrator asked me.

I said, “Yes.” After a few tense minutes of her looking at my passport and discussing the matter on the phone, she matter-of-factly handed me a receipt for a visa and told me to pick it up in three hours. The next day, I was at the airport.

Via Paris came photographer Jackie Nickerson. Once the pair arrived in the Liberian capital of Monrovia November 23, it was an adventure, to say the least, encompassing Time Africa bureau chief Aryn Baker, driver-fixer Frank and many instances of hand-washing and temperature checking. Reading these details about the Person of the Year photos will make you appreciate the images and brave people being celebrated that much more.

[Photo via: time.com]